Doubling renewable energy’s share of the global energy mix over the next 15 years would increase global GDP by up to US$1.3 trillion, or 1.1%, and create as many as 24.4 million direct and indirect jobs, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reported in an analysis released on the first day of its global assembly in Abu Dhabi.
IRENA concluded that action to increase renewables to 36% of world energy production by 2030 would put the targets in the Paris Agreement within reach.
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Rapidly scaling up renewable energy to that degree “would provide about half of the emissions reductions needed to hold warming to 2°C,” The Guardian reports. “Energy efficiency could make up the rest.”
In the IRENA study, the economic benefits of a renewable energy transition “are driven by the increased investment in renewable energy deployment, which triggers ripple effects throughout the economy,” the agency writes. “Renewable energy jobs will grow across all technologies, with a high concentration in the same technologies that account for the majority of the employment today, namely bioenergy, hydropower, and solar.”
The report projects benefits for international trade, environmental impacts, health, and education. “Fossil fuel exporters appear vulnerable to changes in trade patterns,” the agency notes. But “for fossil fuel importers, the switch to a greater share of renewables has potentially favourable trade implications stemming from the ripple effects on their economies, as well as improved energy security due to a greater reliance on indigenous sources.”
The benefits of the clean energy transition “depend on a set of enabling factors, which include a diversified economy and sufficient market capacity to absorb the opportunities for job creation, including training and education that help build a skilled and versatile work force,” IRENA concludes.
“Economic growth also depends critically on an increase in investments in renewable energy deployment without reducing investment in other economic sectors. This reinforces the study’s central message that the many potential benefits from accelerated global renewable energy deployment depend on sufficient financial resources.”